Phil Phorce: Invasion

It was only after the world turned upside-down that the ceiling grew legs.

Everything tumbled immediately.  The Phils were bounced around until they ended up on what had formerly been the ceiling, but everything else stayed put as the Castle’s Syngio (Synthetic Gravity for Inanimate Objects) stayed in control.  Steve and Sam were similarly unaffected, since they were essentially inanimate.

Percival, once he saw what happened, switched to normal gravity and fell to the floor.  “The Castle turned right-side-up again,” he said.

“Does that mean we’re no longer in the Castle Under the Cloud?” asked Sebase.

“I suppose so,” said Percival, looking out the window.  Above them, all that could be seen were clouds and sky.  Below them, beyond the edges of the Cloud, the Earth curved downward.

“How did it happen?” asked Phume.  “I thought we were perpetually upside-down.”

“I think Quirk pushed a button,” said Percival.  The rest of the Phils groaned.

“What happened?” asked Isaac.

“The Castle which was upside-down turned right-side-up,” said Feiron.

“We were upside-down?”

“Well, you still are.”

“I don’t feel upside-down,” said Isaac.  “Wait, where are you going, Feiron?”

The fairy had switched to normal gravity and had begun to ooze out of the Prince’s arms.  “See you, ‘Saac.”  He dropped into a brown, hairy puddle on the floor.

“Come on down, Isaac,” said the old lady.  “Just do what Liam told you a while ago, but reversed—convince yourself that gravity is real.”

“Was it ever not real?” asked Isaac, and he fell.

“Next time we’ll get a cushion,” promised the old lady.

“I appreciate the thought,” said the Prince as he sat up.

A piece of plaster hit Percival on the head and he looked up.  Embedded in the ceiling was a pair of legs.

“The ceiling grew legs,” he said stupidly.

“Those are Liam’s shoes,” Steve said.  “I recognize the soles from when he stepped on my face.”

“Do you have a face?” asked Phume.

“No.”

“Help me pull him down!” shouted Percival.  He jumped and grabbed the Head Phil’s ankles.

The rest of the Phils grouped around him and pulled, but the real help was Phume.  He almost pulled Percival’s legs off, but Percival was too attached to his legs to let go of them now.

With a few more cracks and a few more lumps created by pieces of plaster hitting Percival’s head, Liam fell through the ceiling.

He was unconscious, but Steve soon fixed that.  With a hard bite to his hand, the ping pong ball returned Liam to full awareness.

Well, almost.  Liam jerked stiff, screaming.  His limbs thrashed, throwing Steve against the wall and giving Percival a few bruises to be proud of.

“I didn’t bite him that hard,” said Steve.

Liam gave one last thrash, all his limbs straight, his fingers splayed, his ears wiggled as far back as they would go.  Then he relaxed.

“Is that steam?” asked the old lady, looking mildly concerned at the wisps rising from the body.

“Either that or Sebase passed gas,” said Phume.

Liam’s eyes flicked open.  “Ow,” said the Head Phil.

Suddenly, the door opened to admit Phoenix.  A slightly less-welcome face was that of General Public over her shoulder.

“We miscalculated,” said Public irately.  “We calculated to land on the upside-down cloud being right-side up—it turned the wrong way.”

“Get a new physicist,” suggested Percival.  “Who the heck are you?”

“We are the Blanks.  And you are our prisoners.”

.

The leader of the Blanks looked out of the window of the conference room, watching as his men forced a wounded dragon backwards into a three-car garage.  Why there was such a thing on a cloud, Public had no idea, but it was useful for imprisoning certain beasts.

He and Jordan had followed the two Phils through the transporter immediately, followed by many more Blanks when the Phils were secured.  They had been slightly luckier than the Head Phil—instead of having half of their bodies reintegrate in the ceiling, only a few hairs had been caught.  Public’s head still throbbed, but it was minor pain compared to the agony of integration.

The transporter was a new technology based off of a TV show one of the Blanks, now long dead, had loved.  The Blank had sketched a design for it on a napkin, complete with four theories on how it could be accomplished and the odd sentence, “Beam me up, Scotty!”  One of the theories included having pointed ears, and the others were similarly odd.  The Blanks’ chief engineer could make no sense of the diagram and ordered that it be shredded.  The Legacy Master, in charge of the museum for the remembrance of dead Blanks, wanted it for the museum’s use instead.  Unfortunately, the Legacy Master got to the document only after it had been shredded.  By lots of work, he managed to recreate the original document, more or less.  The drawings looked completely different from their original state, and the words had been mixed around, making a set of notes that was actually understandable.  The word “Scotty” popped up between two important terms, but other than that, things made sense.  The engineer took the diagram back, albeit with much protesting on the Legacy Master’s part, and assembled a machine that was capable of transporting anything from one place to another.  That engineer died before it could be tested, which was proof that the machine worked as it was supposed to.

The Blanks were a race, not an organization.  They were human, but they were tied more tightly to their fates.  Each Blank had a single purpose in life, and once that purpose was complete, the Blank would die, disappearing completely from the world.  If a Blank died just after completing a task, it was obvious that he had just finished his life’s work and that the task had been performed correctly.  For this reason, many Blanks lived in lethargy, refusing to do anything lest they die before they wanted to.  The rest of the Blanks had joined together under a single General to do different tasks.  Occasionally it was an assassination—if done correctly, the assassin would disappear after the target was dead, completely destroying any hope of an effective legal investigation.  More often, however, the tasks would be more palatable.  Many advances in society had been brought about by Blanks, but taken credit for by an onlooker who may or may not have been willing to accept the fame this brought.

The Blanks were doomed to a life in the background.  No one recognized their works, since they disappeared after completing it.  They didn’t make many friends, since one day they would be alive and the next they wouldn’t.  Large families were rare, since many Blanks lived only to be parent to someone who would do great, unrecognized things.  Jeffrey Public supposed he was lucky to have a brother, but it didn’t seem that way most of the time.

Public sighed as he looked down on the scene below.  The multicolored dragon had been forced into the garage at last, and the Blanks were setting up a barricade against the door.  The Blanks’ brown dragon flew in, carrying a portable version of the transporter.  Public grimaced.  He didn’t like that thing.  The muscle cramps after reintegration were horrific.  Nevertheless, they would need it to return to the Earth when it was time.

Public turned away from the window, mentally berating himself for ever venturing to philosophize about his mortality.

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40 Comments

  1. I liked that bit about finally getting the transporter devise right.

    The end paragraphs…is it me, or did you speak about the Blanks’ unique Do-What-You-Gotta-Do-And-Then-Die lives in an earlier Phil Phorce episode?

    Reply
    • I’m not sure… did I? If you can find the scene and show it to me, I’ll believe you, but I didn’t have any idea of this prior to writing the third episode.

      Though if you’re speaking of little hints in the previous scenes, yes, that was intentional.

      Reply
  2. I seem to remember it too, but you talked about it more in-depth in this episode.

    Reply
  3. Charley R

     /  October 13, 2012

    Hmm, what a fascinating proposition these Blanks are. It’s a bit of an info-dump, and a couple of things have been mentioned before, but the bit about the transporter really made it a very entertaining passage – Star Trek references, whee!

    Good work . . . . now where does one go from here, hmmm?

    Reply
    • It is an info-dump, but I couldn’t think of any other way to get everything out there without confusing people. And yes, Star Trek references.

      Reply
      • Charley R

         /  October 13, 2012

        Heh heh, it’s not too bad as infodumps go – there’s no useless information regarding dead childhood pets or whatever, so as long as it’s relevant (and hilarious) it’s all good.

      • I’m glad it was okay.

  4. Robyn Hoode

     /  March 15, 2013

    Do you know what happens when you step on a ping-pong ball? I imagine they dent. *smiles at the thought of a dented Steve*
    “Ow,” said the Head Phil. I think you should maybe leave out “said the Head Phil” or add “weakly” at the end. Use “he said” instead?
    Star Trek trivia– Kirk never actually said “Beam me up, Scotty.”
    How is the engineer’s death proof that the machine worked?
    I thought the bit about the Blanks was interesting. I suppose if they die before they’ve fulfilled their purpose, they become ghosts to do it? Or Gandalfs. 🙂
    Anyway, live long and prosper.

    Reply

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